Renewable energy: Strategizing a better, more sustainable world [Report]

The world’s sustainability challenges provided the impetus for our new report, A study of energy in transition: the role of research and innovation in the world’s shift to sustainable energy sources. Through this report, we produce new insights to enlighten and empower all stakeholders – governments, corporations and society – and drive meaningful sustainability impact today and for the future.

Sustainability – a shared, global imperative

As we look to build a better and more sustainable world, collective action is needed more than ever. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) exhibit a few of the important ways that the global community has come together to address sustainability.

Sustainability woven into everything we do

The UN SDGs are a call to action for governments, corporations and individuals to put sustainability at the core of all that they do. At Clarivate, we recognize the power of collective action and our corporate sustainability goals are aligned with the UN SDGs. Sustainability guides our every decision and we are constantly looking at new ways to deepen and accelerate our impact. Our latest report, A study of energy in transition: the role of research and innovation in the world’s shift to sustainable energy sources, is just one of those ways. The idea for this report was inspired by Element, one of several colleague communities within Clarivate that are key to supporting and advancing our Sustainability purpose and vision. Element aims to provide opportunities to our colleagues and customers, promoting individual sustainability focused efforts and behaviors.

New, robust approach linking different data sources

For this report, we developed a new, rigorous approach, linking different information sources – our research, patent and patent enforcement data – to better understand the research capability in the sustainable energy sources sector, its downstream impact on innovation and the direction of academic and government research programs expected in the future.

Focusing on sustainable energy sources

Energy accounts for a whopping three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions[1]. Transitioning to sustainable energy sources is key to the world’s journey towards a sustainable future. Unfortunately, this transition is not progressing fast enough as studies show that electricity from sustainable energy sources needs to double in the next eight years to minimize global temperature increase.[2]

Our report reveals that:

  • Foundational and enabling research as well as direct patent output surrounding sustainable energy appear to be approaching completed development curves, meaning that the technologies themselves and the platforms of research that support them are nearly ready and mature. In particular, solar photovoltaic and wind power have seen the greatest volume of research and inventive activity in the past three decades, but activity is tailing off as technical challenges are solved.
  • Mainland China tops global research and innovation output in renewable energy sources – however, patent activity for renewable energy in Mainland China is not keeping pace with the often noted large-scale increase in Mainland Chinese patent activity generally, which continues to accelerate.[3] This supports our finding that research and innovation development in the major sustainable energy research areas is approaching completion.

Indeed, the data and analysis demonstrated in this study illustrate that the complex issues related to renewable energy technologies have largely been resolved by the world’s scientists. Attention should shift to the issues currently impeding renewable energy installation, such as:

  • planning for how grid storage can be engineered for renewable energy power,
  • rethinking baseload power plants to incorporate renewable energy, and
  • broadening the spectrum of economic and viable renewable energy sources that are less mature, such as wave and tidal power.

Becoming part of the solution

The challenge facing policy makers, scientists and engineers is to match ambition with tangible action. Together, they must balance the environmental, economic and practical imperative to accelerate the uptake and eventual fullest possible transition to sustainable energy sources. By marrying and modeling derived metrics across scientific and invention information sources, our approach and findings in renewables can be extended beyond sustainable energy production to sustainability more broadly – waste streams, resource and habitat issues, water and carbon intensive industry, mobility – and provide rounded innovation intelligence to governments, corporations and the world’s scientists in the global effort to build a sustainable planet. This approach can be extended across any technology or research area.

At Clarivate, we help our customers solve some of the world’s toughest challenges through innovation and ingenuity – from helping companies innovate new technologies to advancing sustainable resource use. By focusing our actions on the challenges we face, and by working together within our business, with our customers, our partners and communities, we hope to make a positive, lasting and collective impact towards a more sustainable world.

For more market insights as demonstrated in this analysis, contact us today.



[1] IEA, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Energy Data Explorer,” Oct 2022

[2] United Nations Climate Change, “WMO – clean energy must double by 2030,” Oct 2022

[3] Source: Derwent World Patents IndexTM